Hope College today (Thursday, June 27) took a major step in the proposed development of its eastern gateway project by finalizing the purchase of the former Western Foundry Company building at the corner of 8th Street and Fairbanks Avenue.

Hope in early 2001 assumed a leadership role in addressing some of the spectator facility needs of the college and community by announcing it would pursue the construction of a building in an area northeast of the campus. Included in the college's long-range master plan, the project area has become known as the eastern gateway.

Acquisition of the foundry property was key to the proposed project, which envisions a spectator facility that would seat approximately 3,500 people for athletic events and provide space for college and community-oriented events such as Tulip Time.

The stimulus for the project was a $7.5 million anchor gift from the Richard and Helen DeVos Foundation. College officials are estimating the cost of developing the eastern gateway area and construction of the fieldhouse at $20 million. Fund raising for the project continues.

Contingent upon the successful completion of fund raising, construction could begin in the fall of 2003.

Located on the property since 1916, the business began as the Superior Foundry Company and was purchased by Western Foundry of Chicago, Ill., in 1920. The foundry stopped production in the fall of 2001.

College officials said demolition of the building will begin in the coming weeks.